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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Marketing 101 -- Be at the right place

The lunch session at the OGCA symposium on Friday. More than 600 attended.

In the past 24 hours, I haven't had much time to even think about this blog -- or even use the computer for any Internet-related stuff. Rather, from seven a.m. to 10 p.m. yesterday, I've been busy gathering notes for stories of relevance to our Ontario Construction Report readers, gathering competitive market insights, and connecting with the largest group of current and potential clients in our Ontario market area.

The Ontario General Contractors' Association fifth annual symposium is the ideal example of virtually perfect marketing, political, personal development and recreational synergy. The concept: Gather more than 600 general contractors in a resort for a couple of days of intensive seminars, meals, and entertainment, at modest individual cost -- but supported by industry sponsors who appreciate the importance of this high-influence decision-making environment. The sponsorships of course reduce the cost of attending to general contractor members, and various seminars and programs give sponsors the opportunity to market their services by giving useful and effective advice and insights to the contractors; who can pick up several weeks' worth of insights in a solid work day -- that they c an then extend into a weekend break (though the weather here isn't really that good for that.)

Of course, the perfect party is one where you are invited, know a fair number of people, including the host, and have the opportunity to meet others you haven't seen yet, who still share common interests. And that would describe our experience at the Symposium. After all, our business has something to offer the symposium sponsors -- the opportunity to reach the target general contractor market throughout the year -- and the individual general contractors -- the opportunity to have their business profiled in editorial profiles in our regional Ontario publications. So, in essence, virtually every organization here is a potential client.

This creates the perfect networking environment, but of course, as I've noted, you gain most by giving -- and we had a small but important role in helping the OGCA win a battle with a major Ontario crown corporation to use standard contract language that is fair to the general contractors (and reasonable for the government, as well). We have also actively promoted the symposium with large (no charge) advertising, editorial coverage, and the like.

How can you apply these observations in your own business?
  1. If you are in Ontario, and are a general contractor, I strongly urge you to join the OGCA, as well as your local mixed construction association. The OGCA is truly the most effective provincial lobbying organization for your interests -- and the educational and other resources will far exceed the membership costs.

  2. From a broader perspective, the OGCA Symposium reflects a valid marketing opportunity for anyone wishing to sell products or services to general contractors; for us; it is the perfect opportunity since everyone is a relevant client. If you know your own market; your own customer focus; and can find a similar chemistry at a relevant association -- downstream and client centred -- consider the advantages of joining and participating. In other words, if you build hospitals or schools, consider the relevant hospital or school associations in your area. You may have the fortune to find the perfect marketing setting and opportunity, and have some fun too.

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